SONS OF ANARCHY (FX)
Scheduling history: After airing its first season on Wednesday, FX's Sons of Anarchy moved to Tuesday and has aired there ever since.
See (who saw) how it all began: The premiere of Sons of Anarchy did respectably by FX standards, but it was certainly not an out-of-the-box hit. In fact, after premiering with a quiet 2.53 million viewers and 1.2 demo on 9/3/08, the show dropped in each of the next two weeks, to a 1.1 demo in week two and a series-low 0.9 in week three. The show perked up a bit from there, but only into the low-1 range during season one.
The best of times: Season two of Sons took a huge step up from season one. The season two premiere is a particularly amazing result, as a show that had never exceeded 1.3 in season one suddenly posted 4.29 million viewers and a 2.3 demo. But the show's best times were still ahead of it, as it grew double digits in seasons four and five and then again by 8% in season six. Though it was down a bit overall for the final season, it also hit two new series highs: first a 3.2 for the season premiere on 9/9/14, then a 3.3 for the series finale on 12/9/14.
The worst of times: You have to start with season one; after all, none of the 40 results in the last four seasons have done worse than any of season one. Most of season three also saw the show slump; from its 2.1 demo premiere, Sons dropped by 0.8 in the next six weeks before recovering down the stretch. The series low remains the 0.9 demo on 9/17/08. (I don't have the 9/24/08 result, so there's a chance that one went lower, but it's not that likely considering it got back to a 1.1 the next week.)
Then vs. now: During season three, it looked like Sons of Anarchy had peaked; viewers and critics were bailing. But season four brought a big rebound in both arenas, with the biggest premiere and the biggest average in series history. And the show impressively kept on growing in seasons five and six. Sons has slowly grown into a show with ratings the broadcast networks would love to have; in fact, it usually beat them all in its Tuesday 10/9c slot in its last three seasons. The show ended after its seventh season because creator Kurt Sutter wanted it to, and while the final season did see the first year-to-year decline in four seasons, it was not by a meaningful amount.
Adults 18-49 info by season:
Historical-adjusted ratings by season:
For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.